Data is an indispensable strategic tool and foundation of the non-household utilities market. If you overlook this asset, you risk draining your resources to a critical state.

What is the scope of the issue?

According to Waterwise, around 30% of public water supplies used in the UK (over three billion litres a day) are used by the non-household customers such as businesses, schools, gyms, hospitals, hotels etc.

At present, according to the most recent MOSL reports, there is an estimated loss in resource valued at £10 million per annum in the water market that is simply poured down the drain as a result of managing inaccurate data. Data related to customer and premises details account for the largest proportion of this cost.

It’s not just the immediate issue of revenue or people hours that are at stake. Data is only truly useful if it provides valuable information that can be used for the purpose of making strategic decisions and producing an excellent service. Poor data quality increases the complexity of data ecosystems and leads to poor decision-making.

In an industry beset by historically poor data issues, Occutrace is leading the way in helping water suppliers to validate and obtain fine quality data. Our expert team also supports findings with irrefutable proof when it comes to resolving vacants, LUM challenges or leakage.

What are the most common problems to arise from inaccurate data for Water Retailers?

When it comes to vacants or occupancy data, water retailers will find there are typical problems stemming from poor data. Some of them are named below but the list can go on.

Quality of customer service and communications

Accurate customer data ensures the relationship between water supplier and customer is built on a positive foundation from the outset as the water retailer knows exactly which properties are occupied by whom at any specific time.

Inaccurate billing that may lead to customers switching to a competitor water supplier

Old data is risking damage to customer and supplier relationships, as inaccurate billing is becoming more common. Accurate billing ensures that you avoid sending your new customer a ‘back bill’, something that immediately sets you off on the wrong foot.

Wasted effort chasing erroneous debt

The changing landscape of the commercial world can make it difficult for water retailers to keep their records updated as to where their customers are located. This issue can lead to problems with collecting debts from occupiers who have since moved on from the billed property.

Additionally, there are issues when data can set water retailers back and cause revenue loss when it comes to regular water meter reads or long unreads.

Estimated billing

Estimated billing leaves customers with questions and creates additional strain on the water supplier’s customer services team. It’s only natural that occupiers will contact customer services to find out why their bill may be higher than anticipated.

Reputational damage

MOSL publishes a quarterly Peer Comparison league table that will take water retailers and arrange them based on performance against the Market and Operational Performance Standards. Underperforming parties are named and shamed, meaning that poorly performing trading parties face reputational damage amongst their peers and regulatory bodies.

How to enable water retailers to get on the top of their data

There is the substantial cost of training your staff in the specialised field of tackling large numbers of vacant properties or resolving the issues in your long unread portfolio. This is where independent expert providers like Occutrace can save your company countless hours and resolve those issues.

Occutrace personnel are trained to fulfil their roles as full-time professionals with years of experience. They perform remote trace work, combining desk research with phone calls, and field visits where necessary allowing for both parties to test, learn and refine activities in a controlled fashion.


Is data inaccuracy the issue for Water Wholesalers? 

Problems with wholesale market settlement

When wholesale market settlement is inaccurate this creates friction between market participants who waste time and resources going back and forth to find a resolution. Figures can be significant, either underpaid or overpaid and are locked down after a period of time, so there are no real winners. Accurate wholesale charges are the key to true market settlement.

The repercussions caused by poor data cannot be overstated, given their all-encompassing nature that poses a genuine threat to the reputation of the utilities market itself. It also creates unnecessary friction between all the market players, ultimately disadvantageous to water companies and their customers, and end-users.

Better data means better opportunities

Once a business gets control of its data accuracy, the possibilities for making data-driven decisions are endless. By taking things one step at a time and introducing specialist data collection, the task will be less daunting.

Water companies seek help and entrust their data validation in vacants or tracing and reading their LUMs to specialist data collection companies like Occutrace.

With 1.2 million non-domestic water customers in England alone (Ofwat) there is huge potential to uncover unbilled revenue and even target competitor’s customers to entice them to switch. Adopting a data validation strategy and pursuing data accuracy becomes a crucial factor for water retailers in a competitive non-household water marketplace.

As stated by David McKenzie, Managing Director at Occutrace: ‘We believe data should become accurate, attainable, relevant, and transparent for the market to develop enhanced customer service. The range of services we offer are built around the data and accuracy or validation of that data. We present a different opportunity for utilities suppliers to obtain accurate customer data without the investment, logistical headaches or risk involved in the implementation of a traditional data validation scheme.

As an agile specialist data collection company, we have a proven track record of delivering in-depth and actionable outcomes within the NHH water sector.’

Feel free to book a risk-free trial with the Occutrace team now to discuss your challenges. Whether it’s vacants, LUMs or leakage, we can find the optimum solution for your customer requirements.